Birmingham Commonwealth Games star Sophie Linn declares she’s ready to race, Charlotte McShane celebrates a new beginning and Emma Jackson reflects on a long career as Australia’s Elite Women prepare for a scorching day in the office in Friday’s World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Abu Dhabi.
The girls will be joined on the start line by Australia’s top-ranked 2022 WTCS performer in Natalie Van Coevorden and Tokyo Olympian Jaz Hedgeland with the five Australian girls preparing to take on the best in the world in the heat of the day with their 1pm (local time/7pm AEST) start.
Friday’s race schedule will kick off with the Under 23 World Championship races – the women’s field featuring Australia’s Matilda Offord and Ellie Hoitink starting at 7.30am (Local time/1.30pm AEST) and the Men with Australia’s Luke Bate and Oscar Dart at 10.15am (Local time/4:15pm AEST) – with both Offord and Bate preparing in a pop-up Environmental Heat Chamber (see below).
Linn has confirmed she is a certain starter in the final WTCS race of the season after crashing out on the bike in the Bermuda WTCS round a fortnight ago.
“Bermuda was rough after making the front group of ten on the bike and I was gutted to crash out, but I have been rehabbing like crazy and am ready to get some redemption in Abu Dhabi,” said the Colorado-based Linn.
“The prep has not been smooth, but sometimes the adversity can result in a jump in focus and appreciation to be able to race.
“And yes, it’s a big climate change for me, with a very cold November in Boulder with 5cm of snow falling last week. But my coach Danielle Stefano has had me heat prepping a lot on the bike and in the hot tub to help with the acclimatisation.”
McShane has settled into her new home on the Gold Coast with the Dan Atkins led QLD Performance Centre, hoping to find the form she displayed when she reveled in the heat of Cozumel to finish third in the 2016 Grand Final.
“It’s a pretty special race to be at and you never know what happens in a Grand Final and especially on a course like Abu Dhabi where it’s going to be really hot so it’s not going to be a simple straight forward race, with other factors coming into it, there will be some big opportunities and hopefully I can make the most if it,” said McShane, who has enjoyed the move north after a hard two years battling injury.
Van Coevorden, who pushed into the top 20 after Bermuda has been prepping in Portugal for Abu Dhabi with a mixture of heat preparation work in the sauna.
“After Bermuda I know if I really want to put myself in the race, my swim had to be my focus,” said Van Coevorden.
“I don’t want to be chasing in Abu Dhabi. Bermuda showed I’m in good shape and I know I can deliver in the Grand Final.”
Jackson will be lining up in her 13th World Championship team, her first in 2007 as a Junior and 2011 in her first Elite team.
“I am proud of the longevity of my career and how long I have been able to race at the top in triathlon,” said Jackson.
“It doesn’t feel like 15 years ago that I first represented Australia in 2007 as a junior but at the same time it also does feel like a lifetime ago.
“Looking back at some of my early World Championships is where I have had some of my best races.
“As an athlete you sometimes forget what you have achieved in the past and you are your harshest critic when your current performances don’t line up with how you want to be racing.
‘It is nice to think back to my podiums and reinforce the belief in myself that I am capable of good performances.
“For me 2022 has been about getting back to top level racing and trying to put my training into a performance.
‘And I am always grateful for another opportunity to race in the green and gold at a World Championships.”
Hedgeland has been in Dubai with the majority of the Bermuda race group which included Brandon Copeland, Luke Willian and Jake Birtwhistle.
“Dubai was about getting acclimatised to the local conditions which is still proving quite hot as we expected,” said Triathlon Australia Olympic Program Head Coach Joel Filliol, who believes the heat with be a defining feature particularly in the women’s race.
“The purpose was to get the travel and the jet lag squared away for those athletes, with quite a long trip from Bermuda and to be in the environment there...it has worked out well.
“With the women's race starting at 1pm, approaching the hottest part of the day...it will have a big impact on the race no doubt, while the men’s race will be a little bit later but there is no doubt they will be tough conditions.”
Environmental Heat Chambers Order Of The Day for Matilda Offord and Luke Bate
Under 23 pair Matilda Offord and Luke Bate have prepared for the Abu Dhabi conditions in a pop-up Environmental Heat Chamber at Narrabeen’s NSW Performance Centre.
NSW Performance Centre Head Coach Liam O’Neill worked closely with NSWIS Performance Scientist Steven Hughes to prepare his charges for the expected Abu Dhabi wave of heat, featuring stationary bikes set up in a walk-in greenhouse with space heaters at the Narrabeen residence centre.
“The most important aspect of dealing with the heat is to be prepared,” said O’Neill.
“Working closely with Steven we ran an analysis of Abu Dhabi’s weather since 2010 between the dates of November 23 and 30 and it was clear that some heat adaptation would be required.
“We had access to the NSWIS heat chamber at Sydney Olympic Park but were keen to minimise our travel time for the athletes so we made the decision to bring a heat chamber to the NSW Performance Centre in Narrabeen.
“Matilda and Luke completed between 12 and 14 heat chamber sessions and have arrived in Abu Dhabi fit and healthy and are ready and excited to race against the rest of the world on Friday.”
Offord and Bate will line up alongside Brisbane-based duo Hoitink and Dart. With both athletes making their debut on the World Triathlon Cup circuit in 2022, they are ready to make an impact in the U23 fields this Friday.
For a full guide to the Abu Dhabi World Championships; including team lists across Para, Elites, U23 and Age Group, racing schedules and how to watch, visit triathlon.org.au >>